Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jams, and Printable Recipe Cards for Summer


We are in the thick of summer and the food bounty that goes along with that. We have been eating tons and tons of fruit, and I've also dried some and turned more into various jams. I can't keep up here with what I've been making, but I wanted to share with you a) so that I remember and b) so that perhaps you'll be inspired and go create something fabulous.

Raspberry Honey & Lemon Jam at attention

I shared my small batch strawberry jam and my strawberry margarita jam, but, for the record, I've also preserved
  • Apricot Jam
  • Apricot Sucanat Jam (no white sugar at all)
  • Strawberry Sucanat Jam (ditto)
  • Blackberry Jam (with even less sugar than last year's batch)
  • Blackberry Vanilla Jam (OMG it's AMAZEBALLS)
I find this post from Northwest Edible Life to be extremely helpful, and I keep thinking up new and delicious sounding flavors. I definitely want to do more with vanilla, and I've started a canister of vanilla sugar with the (now empty) pods.

What have you been up to?

Now, onto the printable. These lovely, summery recipe cards from Lia Griffith are perfect for sharing recipes at summer parties or with a batch of jam.

Whether you share the jam recipe, or suggest a way to use the jam (brownies, ice cream, bars, etc), these cards will make your ideas even prettier. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend Reading

strawberries and apricots

Hello and happy weekend, my friends. It's gorgeous here! This week on the blog, I shared my Strawberry Ice Cream. In real life, I've spent a good amount of time communing with fruit in one form or another. I figure July is the month for berry preserves and August is for tomatoes. What have you been up to?

good morning

Onto links! Turns out there was a lot of interesting stuff this week. Have anything to add?

This is, quite probably, the most ridiculous study I've ever heard of. 

Whether you know it or not, you can probably hear the difference between hot and cold water. Go on, test yourself!

Do you like language? Then you'll like this list of twenty-five commonly misused words. I was happy to see "irregardless" on the list as NOT A WORD. 

In another piece of the puzzle, one scientist says promoting diversity is critical to "keeping the bees"

In the preserving world, there was some excitement about a big sale on cherries yesterday. Did you get some? Here's a round up of cherry preserving ideas. So far, I've eaten a lot, and I have two trays dehydrating. I didn't want to do more until I know if I like them. 

Are you a fan of the Outlander novels? Then you may be happy to know there is a blog devoted to the food found in their pages. Outlander Kitchen has quite a collection!

More evidence that chocolate is good for you! Dark chocolate may help blood flow

A beautiful stone fruit salad that has me salivating. 

From The Washington Post, an article explaining that it's not that more kids have ADD these days, but that adults expect kids to sit still for an unnatural and unhealthy amount of time. The core-strength test results are shocking and disheartening. 

Some women focused companies have started advertising with un-touched-up photos. Here's the male equivalent

In case you need more to love about the duo, Fey and Poehler's story.

In California, a legal skirmish about a strawberry breeding program that could have far-reaching effects. 

O. M. G. These brownie ice cream sammiches from Smitten Kitchen sound divine. 

This week I've been reading a lot about infusing alcohol and making liqueurs. If you are interested, here's a good place to start, along with here and here.  

And in a shameless plug, last year I was eating Little Apricot Cakes around this time, and I really need to make some again. 

Want more great reads? Check out all weekend reading posts here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free

perfect for summer Strawberry Ice Cream - vegan, gluten free |

I think I've teased you long enough. 

I'm finally sharing my recipe for vegan Strawberry Ice Cream. Even though I was allergic to strawberries and dairy for most of my childhood, it's one of those dishes that just screams "summer!" to me, along with peach crisptomato salad, and grill pizza. It's not so early in the growing season that strawberries are so precious that each one is savored raw, and "how-dare-you-even-suggest-that-I-could-get-sick-of-these!" is a common thought when reading recipes that cook down pints of them. It's full on Summer, which means beautiful, full-flavored strawberries are everywhere, and it becomes hard to keep up with Mother Nature.

vegan Strawberry Ice Cream from above |

Mr Official Taster was certainly happy for me to give this a whirl, and he likes it better than my vegan sangria fruit ice cream. (I like that one better from a economic/fully use your food point of view, but this recipe is more practical for the everyday). In many ways, my vegan jam ice cream is my favorite frozen creation, but I can understand not wanting to give up/sacrifice/repurpose yummy jam.

vegan, gf Strawberry Ice Cream |

ANYWAY, this jam is fairly simple to put together. The hardest part is remembering to plan for 4-5 hours of chilling time for the base and to already have your ice cream maker bowl frozen. I try to keep my in the freezer in case the ice-cream-making mood strikes, but sometimes actual food takes precedence in the space wars.

strawberries and ice cream |

So go ahead, celebrate summer with this yummy vegan (and gluten free, of course) strawberry ice cream. What dishes scream summer to you? Let's discuss in the comments!

Strawberry Ice Cream celebrates summer!  vegan |

Strawberry Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free
adapted from The Kitchn

I have successfully halved this recipe, so if you don't want the temptation of an entire batch, know that it works. Want to add some yummy bits to the ice cream? Add things like chocolate chips or graham crackers in the last five minutes of processing. If you don't need to worry about dairy, white chocolate chips seem like they would be delicious. When I made this recipe, I didn't use the cornstarch the original added, and I also didn't add any liquid sweetener. I liked it just fine. It wasn't super sweet, so if you'd like more sweetness, please add it in.

2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey, although I found I did not need the extra sweetness of either option)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 dry pint (2 cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (I think an equal or smaller amount of honey would work instead, though I haven't tried it)

Make sure your ice cream maker's bowl is thoroughly chilled per the manufacturer's instructions.

Shake the cans of coconut milk thoroughly to combine before opening. Combine the coconut milk, agave (if using) and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat until all of the ingredients combine smoothly and the mixture is uniformly warmed, about 2 minutes.

Scrape the vanilla bean into the mixture and slip in the pod as well (or add vanilla extract). Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not to allow the mixture to boil.

Remove the pot from the heat, discard the vanilla bean pod, and pour the coconut base into a bowl. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours — you really do need the base to be very cold before you process it in the ice cream machine.

While the base is cooling, make the strawberry sauce. Mash the strawberries down in a small to medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the sugar and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries start to lose their shape and become juicy. Remove from the heat and cool on the counter for a bit. Once slightly cool, blend in a food processor or blender, or with an immersion blender, for just a few seconds until a thick sauce forms (it will be somewhat jammy in consistency). Set aside (or stick in the fridge until you're ready to go).

Churn the coconut ice cream base and strawberry sauce in your ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions. I've never found coconut ice cream to get really hard in a machine - it's always a bit like soft serve in consistency. Enjoy immediately or spread the ice cream into a large loaf pan (or pie pan) and freeze for a few more hours (or overnight) until the ice cream has firmed up completely. Mine froze super hard, so you may need to take it out 10 minutes or so before you'd like to serve it. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Weekend Reading

Good morning

Happy weekend!

This week I yelled at the Supreme Court and shared my Strawberry Margarita Jam, which makes it socially acceptable to have tequila at breakfast. I also wondered if anyone cares to hear about my dehydrating adventures. Let me know if you do! Yesterday I celebrated the fourth by sleeping in, making apricot jam, reading, and walking down the block to watch fireworks. Not a bad day.

Fruit yesterday is jam today

Onto links!

If you ever wanted to know how to ride a bike in a dress and maintain your modesty, it turns out all you need is a penny and a rubber band.

Yum! Fresh peach and corn salsa.

Want to support women in leadership roles? Check out this index fund that only includes well-performing companies that are also leaders in terms of supporting women in management. Sallie Krawcheck, one of the founders, says, "Research indicates that companies with more women in
senior management have higher returns on capital, lower volatility, greater client focus, increased innovation and greater long-term orientation. As a result, I believe they should also deliver better stockholder returns over time"
I say it's smart.

Strawberry Blood Orange Jam looks spectacular.

A former drug dealer defends liberal arts, and an argument (and crazy amazeballs video) in favor of arts in our schools. Seriously, go watch the video even if you don't feel like reading.

Guys. Magic wand salt and pepper shakers. For reals. I wants.

Making a summery dessert? Try topping it with Earl Grey coconut whipped cream. I think it would be DIVINE on a peach crisp.

All things Hobby Lobby. And what a woman’s choice means to the Supreme Court and social conservatives.

Ten years ago the New York Times printed forty-one wedding announcements, five of which were the first legal same-sex marriages to grace those pages. Last week they followed up with those five couples.

Want more great reads? Check out all weekend reading posts here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Strawberry Margarita Jam - vegan & gluten free

farm fresh strawberries

I know it's well and truly summer because stone fruits and tomatoes are in. And if it's summer, it's hammer time preservation time. My dehydrator has been humming merrily along (should I post about that? Is anyone interested? comment here or on Facebook), and I've been making batches of jam here and there. We ran out of jam I canned last summer in March or April of this year, so I know I need to increase production this summer. I did give away a lot as presents, and I'm planning on doing the same this year (so get your special requests in early, people).


Each summer that I've made jam, I've gotten a little more adventurous, and this year I'm actively trying new flavor combinations. This was my first really fun one, and it's a winner. 

I've been studying Northwest Edible's flavor chart and thinking up ways of combining fruit with other flavors I like. If you aren't already familiar with Erica's site, I recommend you give it a shot. She has lots to say and to teach, she's often humorous, and never preachy. 

strawberry jam

Like all of my other jams, this one is pectin free. It relies on the fruit's natural pectin, sugar, and cooking out the juices to firm it up. Keep in mind that if you like really firm jam, you will probably prefer jams made with pectin, but you won't be able to experiment as much, and you also won't be able to use less sugar than what the box tells you. For more information, check out this post by Erica.

Strawberry Margarita Jam - vegan & gluten free
inspired by Northwest Edible Life

Depending on how much you cook it down, you should get about 4 half-pint (8 ounce) jars using the measurements below. I always like to prepare a 4oz jar as well, so if there's a little left at the end I can preserve it along with the half-pint jars. If you're swimming in strawberries (or tequila), feel free to double, or even triple the recipe, but this is a nice manageable size.  You’ll notice that I don’t give a cooking time. That’s because cooking times can vary greatly depending on the width of your pot, the power of your stove, the amount of humidity in the air and even how much rain fell in the days before your fruit was picked. Stay close to the stove as you cook your jam and watch closely for changes. Besides putting it on toast, jam makes a great cake filling and fabulous ice cream

Just like with any other jam, you can of course skip the processing and just store the jam in the fridge and eat within a month or so.

2 pounds washed and chopped strawberries (weigh after preparing)
4 to 8 oz (a gently rounded ½ to 1 cup) sugar
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (required) + 1 tsp or more for extra flavor
¼ tsp – 1 tsp lime zest
1-3 tsp tequila

In a large pot (with only 2lbs of fruit, I was able to use my large saucepan), gently mash berries and 4 oz sugar together. Cover and let stand for 1 hour or more. If I'm cooking it right away, I like to use this time to prepare my jars, lids & tools, get my giant pot of water heating up, clean up and clear off my (very limited) counter space, etc. You're going to be doing a lot of tasting, so make sure you have a bunch of clean spoons ready. If you'd prefer to break up the jam making, you can refrigerate the pot (or a bowl of the fruit+sugar) for up to 24 hours or so. The fruit will just keep releasing its juices, which is what you want anyway.

Prepare jars and lids for standard water bath canning. I don't pretend to be an expert, so if you're new to this, please do your homework! Read this, and also possibly this and many of these. Knowledge is power (botulism free canning for the win!). 

If you macerated your fruit in a bowl, pour it into a large pot or large saucepan (the wider the better for faster evaporation). 

Bring everything to a simmer. Stir frequently to avoid scorched jam. As your fruit begins to soften, add lime juice (1 tablespoon for every 2 lbs of fruit). Stir in lime zest. 

At this point, if you like smoother jams, you'll want to use an immersion blender to break up fruit. I don't have one, so I just use a potato masher/spoon to break up the fruit as much as I feel like. You can make it as chunky or as smooth as you'd like. 

With a clean spoon, taste your jam (without burning your tongue, please). Decide if it's sweet enough, and add more sugar if you like. You should also decide if it's lime-y enough. Add in more zest and/or juice if you'd like. Trust your taste buds. If you think it's too tart, add sugar. If not, wonderful, you can move along. Keep tasting until it's the right sweetness for you, but be sure to use a clean spoon every time. Remember that the longer your jam cooks, the more concentrated the flavors will become. Keep stirring frequently. 

You can test for set (lots of info here) quite easily- when your preserve is "glossy, a bit darkened and looks slightly thickened"scoop a small amount onto a plate (even better if it's been chilled). Run your finger through the jam. If the finger swipe remains visible or only fills in very slowly, the preserve as reached a soft, spoonable set. If you're good with that (I am) you can move on. If you like a firmer jam, keep cooking down your fruit and keep testing for set (clean spoons!!!). 

Stir in tequila. Start with 1 teaspoon (you can always add more). Taste. Add in more if you'd like. In this final tasting, make sure the jam is sweet enough, and the whole thing tastes good. Add more of one or more components if needed. 

Now it's time to fill your jars! Skim off the foam if necessary, ladle jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch (6mm) head space. Wipe the rims clean and apply lids. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (full-on boil! simmering doesn't count). Remove jars, and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel. Listen for the "ping!" of success. When jars are cool enough to touch, check seals. Jam is ready to eat as soon as it is cooled but can also be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
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